By Sheena Harden
Austin Free-Net, Director of Communications & Outreach
So, Ilene asked me if I would like to contribute a Blog to #BlogathonATX for the kick off of the event, happening this coming Saturday. I asked what she’d like me to write about and she gave me a few suggestions, such as why I chose to work for Austin Free-Net and how we became the charity of choice for Blogathon.
The short answers are: I worked down the hall from them and, she begged me.
The long answers are a bit more complex…
First, a little about Austin Free-Net (AFN.) We are a tiny nonprofit with a big heart that provides free computer access and training at 20 locations in Austin. Our clients come from all walks of life with unique goals, challenges and successes. It is always thrilling to see someone’s face light up when they send their first email or apply for a job online. You might be amazed at how many adults in our community don’t know how to type or use a mouse. No one is born knowing how to right-click.
I first heard about Austin Free-Net when I worked at the City of Austin. We shared space and resources in a building downtown. My job for the City was as the Grant for Technology Opportunities Program manager, a grant that supports organizations seeking to close the digital divide.
It was a perfect fit from the start. I’m a tech geek (and gamer) and I enjoy working in a mission driven environment. You could say I ended up as the perfect blend of my parents.
My father taught electronics at Austin Community College where he led the way for vocational programs that put people to work in the tech industry. He was a big time computer fanatic and made sure I was computer literate from the time I could type. (Anyone else remember the Franklin Ace 1000? 64K of RAM! Woohoo!)
My mother was trained as a social worker, active in the community and a wonderful writer. She founded the first International support group for Relapsing polychondritis, a rare disease she fought for over ten years.
My mother’s creativity and desire to help others plus my father’s computer geekery and investment in his students’ futures combined to make me the woman I am today, Director of Communications for Austin Free-Net. Every day I get to see how technology enhances people’s lives. Knowing how to use a computer opens the door to a new world of information, communication and life-long learning.
I’ve been with AFN for a year and a half now and we are growing each day. A huge part of that growth is thanks to social media maven Ilene Haddad and others like her who have taken an interest in our mission and spread our message to the far corners of the globe. It is satisfying to see the tool we teach others to use in service of our mission … meta!
When Ilene first approached me about Blothathon my immediate reaction was, “this is exactly what bloggers need!” The excitement of meeting others with the same challenges we face, the opportunity to learn from peers, share good coffee and most of all, to commit to the time to blog – it is an idea whose time has come.
The April #BlogathonATX is our second collaboration and I am excited for the event. We have pretty new banners, handouts and information on our upcoming golf tournament to share with everyone. Ready, set, BLOG!
#BlogathonATX is proud to partner with Austin Free-Net. A portion of ticket sales goes to help provide technology training and access to Austin’s underserved communities. Visit AFN’s website to learn more about their mission and how you can help: http://www.austinfree.net/.